Showing posts from March, 2007

A really satisfying meal

A meal I had last year at one of Iceland's fancier (and most expensive) restaurants, where perfectly done beef was served with braised veal that was well on its way to becoming pâté and had an incredible richness of flavour, reminded me of all the times when, as a child and well into my teens, I would stalk the pot when my mother was making lamb pâté and try to nab a little morsel of braised meat that had been cooked for so long that it was beginning to separate into string-like pieces, each bursting with the flavour of meat, onions and salt and saturated with the special flavour braising gives to meat. Unfortunately for the restaurant, the comparison was not in their favour, because while the braised veal – I think they called it veal mousse although I am relatively sure that neither cream, eggs nor gelatin were involved – had a wonderful, rich flavour, it had a mushy, nasty texture that made it impossible to eat it by itself - you needed a piece of beef, vegetable or potato to

News: Skyr is now available in New York and Boston

According to Morgunblaðið, skyr is now available in Whole Foods Markets in the New York and Boston areas.

Icelandic roast beef sandwich – Roast beef samloka

I’m feeling a little uninventive today, so I am going to post a recipe for a good sandwich I sometimes buy or make: roast beef. For 1 sandwich, take 2 slices of bread (white or whole-wheat), put one slice aside and top the other with 2-3 slices of cold roast beef. Smear some remoulade (scroll down to the bottom of the page to see recipe) on top of the roast beef, add 4-5 slices of pickled cucumber/gherkin OR a couple of slices of canned apricots, and about 2 tsp of French fried onions. Top with the other slice of bread and enjoy. I like this sandwich best when it’s newly made and the onions are still crunchy, but it is quite good even when they have gone soft. The version with the pickled cucumber is widely available wherever sandwiches are sold in supermarkets and highway diners in Iceland.

Rjómaterta I - Cream Cake I

All kinds of scrumptuous, decorated cakes with fruit, cream and/or sweet icing are very popular in Iceland, and there are plenty of recipes to choose from. Most are based on some kind of sponge cake, or are made with meringue. They are often jokingly called Stríðstertur (Battle Cakes). Hnallþórur is another joke name for these cakes - derived from a character in one of Halldór Laxness' books, a woman who loved to make and serve these kinds of cake. These creations are as beautiful and tempting to behold as they are delicious and fattening! Layer 1: 4 egg whites 1 cup sugar 2 cups desiccated coconut or Rice Crispies 100 g dark chocolate Beat together egg whites and sugar until stiff and peaks form. Chop or finely grate the chocolate and fold in along with coconut/Rice Crispies. Pour into a greased, round cake pan (use one with a loose bottom). Bake at 150°C for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool. Layer 2: 4 eggs 100 g sugar 50 g flour 50 g potato flour

Engifermjólk - Ginger milk

Serves 2. My own invention. This sweet ginger-milk drink is wonderfully calming if you have an upset stomach. Ginger-root is a well-known nature medicine, and is especially recommended for stomach ailments and motion sickness. 250 ml (1 cup) milk sugar to taste 1,5 cm fresh ginger root OR 1/2 tsp dried, powdered ginger Peel the ginger and grate it into a saucepan and add the milk, OR put the milk into a saucepan and add powdered ginger and stir to mix. Bring the milk to the boil. Pour through a sieve or tea strainer into mugs, add sugar and enjoy. -You can vary the amount of ginger according to taste. Just don't put too much or the milk may curdle.

Caraway coffee - Kúmenkaffi

Brew some good, strong coffee, adding some caraway seeds before brewing. If you grind your own, throw some caraway seeds in the grinder along with the coffee beans. I'm not going to offer any measurements, as people's tastes vary widely where coffee in concerned, and the amount of caraway should be adjusted to taste. -For a truly adult version of caraway coffee, make a "Black Russian" with fresh, hot coffee and use brennivín instead of vodka. To add a bit of brennivín ("að gefa út í") is a tradition still honoured by some Icelanders, and there are stories of caraway coffee sometimes arousing the (happy) suspicion that the hostess has put "a little something extra" in the coffee.

Every-day pancakes – Lummur/Klattar

"Klattar" mean "pats", an appropriate name for these pats of dough. "Lumma" (the singular form of "Lummur") is sometimes used to refer to something that is old fashioned, especially when referring to outdated music. My mother is an expert at making these mini pancakes. Unlike the large, thin pancakes that are served rolled up with sugar or whipped cream and jam, these small, thick ones taste best sprinkled with sugar, still warm from the skillet, with a glass of cold milk. A variation on the basic recipe is fish-pancakes . 150 ml flour 1 egg 1 tsp baking powder 150 ml milk (or more as needed) 1 tbs sugar 25 g margarine/butter 150 ml rice pudding or porridge 1-2 tbs. raisins (optional) Melt the margarine/butter on the skillet over low heat. Allow to cool slightly. Sieve flour and baking powder together into a bowl. Add sugar and rice pudding or porridge and mix well. Add half the milk and mix. Add the egg and the rest of t

Sólarkaffi - Sun Coffee

Because of Iceland's northerly location, the sun rises very low over the horizon during the winter. The country has many deep, narrow fjords and valleys where the sun does not rise above the mountains for many weeks during the darkest winter days. When the sun finally does show itself for a few minutes, it is a cause for celebration for the inhabitants of those dark valleys and fjords. These days, the inhabitants of some towns and villages will get together in the gathering hall to celebrate the arrival of sunshine. Others will celebrate individually in their own homes. There is no specific sunshine day, since the sun will appear on different days in different locations. And there should be no cheating: even if you know that the sun has risen above the mountains, there is no celebrating until the weather actually allows it to be seen! This tradition is widespread in Iceland, especially in the east and west fjords, but also in some fjords and valleys in the north. The Sun

Mayonnaise - Olíusósa

This, of course, is not Icelandic, but Icelanders are very fond of salads and sauces based on mayonnaise, so here is a recipe. makes 200-300 grams (7-10 oz.) 2 egg yolks 1/2 tsp salt 200-300 ml salad (or cooking) oil 1 pinch pepper (optional) 1/2-1 tsp sugar 1 pinch dry, ground mustard seeds (optional) 1-2 tsp vinegar or lemon juice. White vinegar can be used but will make the taste sharp. Flavoured vinegar, such as tarragon, makes the taste more mellow. Mayonnaise can be made in a blender or a mixer, or by hand, using a whisk and a bowl with a rounded bottom. Egg yolks and oil must be at room temperature. Mixing bowl/blender cup must be clean and dry, and also at room temperature. Choose oil that has little flavour of its own. Mix and stir the egg yolks with the salt until light and thickened. Add the sugar and the spice, if using (pepper OR mustard) and half the vinegar/lemon juice and mix well. Lemon juice is healthier than vinegar, and mayonnaise made with lemon juice is bet

Skonsur - Thick pancakes/pan-fried bread

The word "skonsa" (the singular form of "skonsur") is the same word as "scone" in English. We Icelanders use the word to refer to a kind of thick pancake. The taste is similar to American breakfast pancakes, but we serve them differently. We usually cook them on the same kind of skillet as we use to make the delicious Icelandic pancakes. 250 g bread flour 4 1/2 tsp baking powder 1 tsp salt 2 tbs sugar 40 g margarine, melted 250 ml milk 2 eggs Mix together the dry ingredients. Add the eggs and melted margarine, and thin with milk. Stir until smooth. Pour on a greased skillet and fry on both sides at low temperature. Cakes should be like thick pancakes. -serve cold with any kind of topping that is good with bread: cheese, slices of meat, salads, etc. -make a sandwich-cake: make a mayonnaise/sour-cream based salad (shrimp, tuna, egg, salmon, etc.), and layer with whole pancakes. (More on sandwich-cakes later). -serve warm like American pancakes, wi

Spice bread with ham and cheese filling

This is my own recipe. It's basis is a simple recipe for pizza crust that I got from a home economics cookery book, but it ended up as something completely different. Enjoy! 300 ml flour 1/2 tsp coriander 100 ml wheat germ (optional) 1 tsp garlic powder 2 1/2 tsp dry yeast* 2 tsp paprika 1/4 tsp salt 1 1/2 tbs water, lukewarm 1/2 tsp curry powder, mild 1 tbs vegetable oil Mix together dry ingredients, including yeast and spices. Add oil and water and mix well. Knead until the dough is well mixed and no cracks are visible on the surface. Stand in a warm place for 40 minutes to 1 hour to rise. Knead again and roll out into an oblong shape. Thin the edges. Filling: diced ham cheese (I recommend Gouda) Cottage cheese (optional) Mix together ham and cottage cheese and put in the centre of the dough oblong. Sprinkle grated cheese over the filling. Fold the edges of the dough over the filling and press edges together. Brush with vegetable oil and spri

Mashed Potatoes - Kartöflustappa/kartöflumús

Is there a potato-growing country in the world where people don’t make mashed potatoes? I doubt it. Here is one version. I have been making mashed potatoes since I learned to cook and have never used a recipe, but this recipe gives a good idea of the approximate proportions of the ingredients. Mashed potatoes are served with many Icelandic dishes. I like it best with sausages, stews and goulash, and occasionally with roast lamb. It's also good with fried liver sausage. 1 1/2 kg potatoes 1/2 l milk 1 tbs butter (approx.) 1/2 tsp salt 15 g sugar (approx.) Cook the potatoes, peel and mash well. Add some milk and stir well. Continue adding milk until the desired consistency is reached (should be fairly thick, but not runny). Add the butter, sugar and salt to taste. Warm up, but do not boil. Notes: -Add a pinch of ground nutmeg as well as salt and sugar. -For really light, lumpless and fluffy mashed potatoes, whip them, but not for long or they can become gummy. A

Fish and seafood in Iceland

Being an island, Iceland naturally relies on the sea that surrounds it and the economy is still more or less based on fishing and fish processing (although other industries are becoming more important). Traditionally fish is either cooked and eaten fresh or preserved by salting ( söltun ), drying ( þurrkun ), smoking ( reyking ), or partly drying ( siginn fiskur ). Skate ( skata and tindabykkja ) and shark ( hákarl ) are fermented ( kæsing ). The most common fish caught off Iceland's shores is cod ( þorskur ), which is mostly exported. The majority of Icelanders prefer to eat haddock ( ýsa ). My own favourite is halibut ( lúða , heilagfiski ). The traditional way of serving fish, whether fresh or preserved, is as soðning : plain, boiled fish, served with potatoes and sometimes with melted sheep's tallow with cracklings. Cod roe and liver are considered a delicacy by many. These are seasonal treats, and so is the fatty flesh of the male lumpfish ( rauðmagi ). Other common s